Archives for posts with tag: aging

There is a time in life when you suddenly realize that your parents will die someday.  Of course you know that everyone will die someday.  What I mean is that suddenly you realize that your parents are getting older (with accelerated aging rate), and that ‘someday’ may not be too far from today.  This wake up call does not necessarily take the form of a serious illness.  It may be little yet undeniable signs, such as the time when you notice that your father – who rightfully takes pride in his sharp memory – forgets something, or when you notice that your mother – who is known as Energizer in the family – sometimes gets tired.

So you take a deep breath, trying to estimate (for you can’t help doing this) how much time you still have with them.  Twenty years or more, you try to calm yourself, for did not all your grandparents reach their late seventies or early eighties?  Then you remember that we are all just frail human beings, and chide yourself for trying to determine something that is only the Almighty to determine.  Then you start worrying, what if it is shorter than that?  Fifteen years, ten years, five years?  Then you frantically list all the things that you still want to do.  What about the grandchildren they have not seen, what about your dream of having them see you become a successful person, what about the businesses you have not yet taken over, what about all the cooking recipes you have yet to learn from your mother?

Then you remind yourself that worrying does not take you anywhere.  So you take another deep breath, and apply Dale Carnegie’s three principles, only that you straightaway fail.  For the first principle is to list the worst case scenario, and the second is to accept that it may happen.  Having failed the first and the second, you jump to the last: to plan some actions which may improve the situation.  Should you take a long unpaid leave to learn the business from your father?  Should you stop postponing pregnancy? Should you take your parents to various health screenings? Should you forbid your father eating his favourite-but-not-healthy food?

After that you regain part of your common sense and again chide yourself for trying to plan and determine what the Almighty alone may and can determine.  And now that you remember God, you start pleading, ‘bargaining’ if you are bold enough – bargaining with numbers as Abraham once did.  Abraham tried to get the smallest number possible, but you tried to get the longest time possible.  Twenty years, thirty years?  Then again you chide yourself for thinking that you know better than your God, and resign yourself with those often-said-rarely-meant words: Thy will be done.

There is a time in life when you suddenly realize that your parents will die someday.  For some people, that time comes early in life.  There are young children who lost their parents because of illnesses or accidents.  For some other, the even less fortunate ones, their parents may not play that much important role in their life due to various reasons, thus when that time of realization comes it barely troubles them.

But for most people, who are fortunate to have decent parents with average (or above average) life span, that time generally comes when they are beginning to start their own life, when they start being classified as young adults.  As becoming an adult means you have to take care of so many things (paying bills, buying a house, starting a family, planning your finances, let alone raising your children), this is generally also the time when you begin to appreciate how much your parents have done for you.  You suddenly feel that life has become so busy and wonder why your life was so carefree before.  It does not take a sage to answer; there have always been so many things to take care of in life, but you could be carefree because until recently, your parents take care of all that for you.

At that realization and appreciation, you again chide yourself for the many times you fail to appreciate your parents, and resolve to make it up to them, and because you need time to do all this you repeat your pleading, bargaining prayer (almost forgetting the ‘Thy will be done’ you just said few minutes before). Twenty years, thirty years?

Then you start reasoning with yourself, why should you be so worried about death?  You are a Christian, who believes in the resurrection, who professes that death needs not be feared for Christ our Lord that path has trod.  The answer comes at once: you are not worried about death, you are just worried because you still want to be with them.  Yes, you look forward to the resurrection, to see them again someday, but that day seems too far off.

After all this reasoning and worrying, you take yet another deep breath, and welcome yourself to the complex world of adults.  After this you will look at children the way your boring aunties used to look at you: longingly and fondly.  For the world of children is another world which gate is now closed to you.


Do you not think that Man is very brave? For we alone, of all creatures in our world, by the virtue of our reason, know that everything we build will one day become ruins. Yet build we still.

In the last weeks of 2011, I saw things that made me think on man’s mortality and decay. I met my great aunt, and it saddened me to see how this formidable woman suddenly became old and frail. I went home to see my parents, and as always happened every time I saw them, I rued the fact that they are getting older. Aging is a part of our human nature, people say. But why is that so? I can ‘understand’ the mortality (who would want to be tied to this world forever?), but why the aging, the decay?

Few times I heard an accusation from the agnostics / atheists that we, who believe in God or gods, only do so because we are not brave enough to sail on the sea of life without a false comfort. I often snorted arrogantly at that, as I think that it takes more (instead of less) courage to believe in God. For I do not, as far as I can remember, see God as a grant-giver machine, but as a master and lord. Not to be ordered around at our whim, but to be obeyed. How can people say it makes life easier to have a master? Yes, it may be easier to just do what you are told instead of taking the responsibility of making a decision. Yet this master is not that kind of master. This master, if I may say so, requires us to think independently more than a PhD supervisor requires. How does that make life easier? So I dismissed that accusation right away.

Yet as I pondered on men’s decay, I had to admit that I cling to my faith for comfort in this matter. No, I am not (yet) talking about the great story of Redemption. I am not talking about the seemingly too-good-too-be-true Good News. I am simply thinking about Creation. If there had been no Creator, what would have been the meaning of our toils? If there had been no meaning, no story, if a man had simply progressed from a babe, worked like a horse in his youth, decayed and wrinkled like dry leaves in his last days, only to vanish entirely, why should we live so seriously? I do not say why should we live, for simply being, simply living, I agree with Chesterton, is a privilege too great to miss. But why should we live so seriously? We should, instead, drink and be merry, and when the time comes, let us recite the Iliad and die. Why should we work so hard to succeed? (We should work to some extent, of course. To be able to drink and be merry, we need to buy the drinks first). Yet why should we bother to achieve something, to carve something, to leave our legacy? For every thing will come to ruin.